The place where we have been staying for the last days on the organized part of our journey, the Basque region of France, was visited by heavy and devasting rains for the week before we arrived. There was much damage. Peter Sills, our leader, has wanted us to stay in the kind of geography early pilgrims experienced. Of course, our accomodations have been luxiourous by comparision. He has also wanted us to travel not the main highways but the back and mountainous roads that follow the early Camino. In the process of doing repair to the road leading to where we have been staying, the phone line was cut thus depriving all of us from any contact with the outside world. No cell phone, no internet, no television. It's been wonderful. It has also hampered these postings in a timely manner.
One day trip we made from this place was, first, to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. The name of this town means "foot of the pass" and was, and is, a place where three pilgrim routes converge.
While in this village, we had a Eucharist service in the cathedral here.
After the service and a lunch on our own, we departed for Roncesvalles. This meant travelling over a mountain pass that took us not only into Spain but also to a height of over 900 meters. There we had a tour of the Abbey that has been a pilgrim stopping place since the tenth century. To think of humans that long ago climbing to this height is amazing. In doing renovations to the Abbey, which houses a wonderful museum documenting the church's history at this time, the remains of pilgrims who did not make it to Cantiago were found.
On the long way back from the Abbey to our lodging, we stopped at a place pilgrims have revered for centuries. It is a place that signifies they are now on the "downward" slope toward Santiago. Still a long way to go but the hard climb is over.
We drove back from this day absolutely filled with experiences, memories and - for me - musings.
More to come,